Drive, wait for the collapse, kick the ball out to the corner for a three.
The Toronto Raptors didn’t seem to have a very complicated strategy on Tuesday night. Sometimes simplicity works. The absence of All-Star DeMar DeRozan did nothing to slow down a Raptors team that operated on a different level than the Milwaukee Bucks in a 107-89 win.
Toronto looked twice as fast and completely prepared for everything the Bucks threw at them defensively. Milwaukee can usually use its length and athleticism on the defensive end to create turnovers that lead to easy baskets, but Toronto countered that approach with a patient, but aggressive offensive that centered around sound decision making after dribble drives into the paint. The Raptors had only ten turnovers, had assists on 13 of their 14 3-pointers and made seven of ten corner threes.
It felt like watching a clinic on how to be an athletic, up-tempo team in today’s NBA.
|J. Parker 37 MIN | 7-16 FG | 1-2 3FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 18 PTS | -22 +/-
I think we’re all comfortable writing off Parker’s defense this season. As long as he’s producing on offense, he’ll have a whole summer to work on understanding and executing defensive strategies more effectively than he has this season and no one will be too down about things. A month ago he seemed ineffective on both ends. Now he’s a reliable scorer and a bad defender. That’s progress!
A moment of literal non-progress? Twice Jabari Parker was met at the rim by Bismack Biyombo. The first dunk attempt may have grazed the rim, but it certainly didn’t go in, and it was at least affected by Biyombo is not blocked. The next? Didn’t get near the rim. Impressive block. The Raptors did a great job of defending the rim all game.
|G. Antetokounmpo 35 MIN | 6-12 FG | 0-1 3FG | 6-11 FT | 12 REB | 9 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | -5 +/-
Another near triple-double. Ho-hum. He almost had it at halftime and would have gotten it if this game were closer or if the Bucks would have played better all-around. At times, it seemed like Milwaukee had no other offensive option than Giannis getting to the basket. He didn’t have as many highlights as usual, but he still found a way to put together a very nice line. His recent struggles at the free throw line continued.
|G. Monroe 29 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-1 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -10 +/-
A very quiet, yet moderately productive game from Monroe. He wasn’t able to take advantage of a Raptors team that was missing Jonas Valanciunas, but that wasn’t necessarily Monroe’s fault. It didn’t feel like the Bucks relied too heavily on him, and once the game got out of hand, he didn’t see many touches.
|J. Bayless 28 MIN | 3-9 FG | 1-3 3FG | 4-4 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | -11 +/-
Toronto wasn’t giving up many open looks outside the arc and did a good job of keeping a defender near Bayless for most of the game. He had some open looks, but Toronto rotated well and didn’t give up much.
|K. Middleton 31 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-2 3FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | -4 +/-
It felt like Middleton wasn’t as involved or on the court as much as usual and the 31 minutes kind of reflect that, but don’t totally tell the whole story. His ten attempts were his lowest field goal attempts total in eight March games and his 31 minutes were the fewest he’s played since December (!).
|J. Henson 6 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +3 +/-
He provided relief for Greg Monroe and Miles Plumlee in the last five and a half minutes. A tipped in basket and – what else – left-handed hook got him on the board against the Raptors C Team. There wasn’t much to take away from his effort, but it was good to see him back on the court.
|J. O’Bryant III 15 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -9 +/-
Another ineffective game for Milwaukee’s young backup backup backup power forward. But his games don’t look quite as bad because he does seems to be trying very hard. If he keeps up his effort and his skills develop another 25%, then he could be a back of the rotation type guy, right? It’s always surprising to see him play 15 minutes and grab two rebounds, though. You’d think a guy with his size who looks like he’s trying as hard as he is would luck into four or five rebounds, no?
|D. Inglis 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-1 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | +0 +/-
Garbage time that included a rebound that came directly to him bouncing off his hands.
|T. Ennis 28 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-2 3FG | 2-3 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -13 +/-
The numbers indicate that he played at least fairly well. There’s little evidence in his offensive statistics that indicate he had a bad game. But Milwaukee sure didn’t seem to hum along when he was out there. Unfortunately, he was stuck in some lineups with Vaughn and O’Bryant, which did little to help him. Ennis certainly needs more talent around him than that.
|R. Vaughn 13 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-2 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -8 +/-
He’s still either non-existent or completely ineffective when he does touch the ball. Kidd pulled Vaughn after only a minute and a half and one foul of a 3-point shooter in the second quarter.
One Thing We Saw
- While none of Milwaukee’s lineups seemed especially productive against a sharp Raptors team, this one felt like it was on the bench. Milwaukee’s starters logged 19 minutes together and were only -5 in that time. Every other lineup, even lineups that included multiple starters, was a disaster. Toronto’s depth and skill were too much to overcome.